out with the old, in with the canoe

A few of my hopes for 2013:

visiting magical places, writing by hand and blending in with nature

visiting magical places, writing by hand and blending in with nature

having fun with this guy

having fun with this guy

cooking with abandon (and sometimes fire)

cooking with abandon (and sometimes fire)

enjoying where I am, chronologically

enjoying where I am, chronologically

trying new things

trying new things, even when it’s obviously a bad idea

remembering

remembering

walking new paths

walking new paths

laughing (and causing a bit of a ruckus) with the family

laughing (and causing a bit of a ruckus) with the family

taking the scenic route

taking the scenic route

watching for signs

watching for signs

keeping things in perspective

keeping things in perspective

taking comfort in the fact that pigs occasionally do, in fact, fly

finding comfort in the thought that pigs occasionally do, in fact, fly

it’s all about context

I was out running Christmas-related errands Saturday morning when I saw a sign on the highway about the High Caliber Gun Show that was in Houston last weekend.  Evidently high-caliber gun shows go on whether or not there was a mass murder of 20 elementary school students and six adults the day before. Hey man, that’s cool. Capitalism. I get it.

Guns are fairly ubiquitous in this state. In fact, this long-haired liberal lives in a house that has guns in it. Multiple guns. (They aren’t mine, but they are in my house.) So let me get this out of the way before we go any further: I don’t think all guns should be banned. I think the majority of gun owners are responsible, law-abiding citizens who would only fire their weapons at another human being as an absolute last resort.

But after last week’s massacre (and each and every one before that), we all realize that we have a major problem in this country. A problem that stems from three things: easy access to high-powered weapons, a lack of mental health care for people who need it and a culture that promotes violence as a way to settle differences, express one’s manhood or escape a life that just didn’t work out the way it was supposed to. This post will talk about the first of that list.

As I read the Facebook comments from my friends on “both sides” of the gun debate (are complex issues really so easy to boil down to just two opinions?), it became clear that one of the problems we’re having with the gun issue is the extremism of opinion on either end. The “I’m an American and it’s my God-given right to own as many weapons as I want” versus the “Won’t someone think of the children and remove all guns from all homes.”

The people in the first group wrap themselves in the flag and tout their patriotism, as if those of us who don’t want to walk around wearing a shoulder holster are somehow less American or care less for our loved ones. The second group wraps themselves in a soft baby blanket of denial about the world we’re living in, acting as if the people who own guns are just one step removed from blowing us all away. Neither is “right,” but the first camp is way more politically active and well-funded. So the first camp is the one who’s been setting the tone for the country.

Argument #1 (and their rallying cry): THE SECOND AMENDMENT

When the Second Amendment was written (1791), guns looked like this:Pistol HawkenPercussion

They were simple, single-shot weapons that didn’t have the capability to kill more than one person at a time. In fact, in the time it took to reload the things, it would have been easy to just tackle the shooter and punch him in the head. The piece of shit who killed 20 children and six adults last week used a gun like this:

assault rifleBit of a difference, no? This killing machine shoots bullets that are “designed in such a fashion (that) the energy is deposited in the tissue so the bullets stay in.”  Wow. And it can shoot 30 rounds in just a few seconds. That’s a lot of killing. And that’s all it’s good for. Not hunting–if you shot a deer with something like this, you’d be left with pieces of meat, not a trophy to hang on your wall or steaks to put in your belly. Not target practice either–anything with a finger (human, monkey, those skinny potatoes) could fire something like this and hit a target. Eventually. No, this machine is made for killing. And that’s all it’s made for.

Argument #2: YOU CAN’T UN-RING A BELL

“There are already assault weapons and the related bullets/magazines out there, and there’s no way you’ll get them all back. We may as well keep selling them.” Bullshit. If we found out that 100 people have a jar of anthrax in their basement, that doesn’t mean we should make more and sell it to whoever wants it. Yeah, some people own scary big murder machines filled with extra-murderous bullets. Most of those people are probably as sane as any of us, and some of them are probably batshit crazy, just waiting to be fired or dumped before they go on a rampage. There’s not a lot we can do about that. But what we can do is make an effort to keep those machines out of more people’s hands going forward.

Argument #3: CRIMINALS WILL GET THESE GUNS/BULLETS WHETHER THEY’RE LEGAL OR NOT

That might be true. Sometimes. But in the case of the most recent killer, if his mama hadn’t had those guns sitting in her house, it might have been more difficult for him to have access to them. Shit, when I was 20, I had a hard time finding beer money. And if it had been more difficult, maybe he would have found a different way to express his hatred/mental illness/whatever than by killing 26 people in a matter of minutes. Instead of fixating on all those guns in his childhood home (which, I can pretty much guarantee, were accompanied by a hearty dose of paranoia meted out by the person who purchased so many high-caliber weapons), maybe he would have found a different outlet. Dubstep. Paintball. Fucking the person of his choice. Macrame. Whatever.

Instead of taking the hypothetical to its most negative and defeatist conclusion (criminals will find a way regardless, so let’s just shrug our shoulders and make it easy on them), let’s try another approach. Let’s try making it a little harder on the bad guy or the disturbed young man and see how that works out. We’ve tried it the other way, and it’s obviously not working. I wrote a post about smoking pot with a former President last week and my blog was suddenly visited by the men in black. Hows about they visit people like the Aurora movie theater shooter who bought 6,000 rounds of ammunition and four guns in the weeks before the shooting.

Argument #4: THE GOVERNMENT! WE NEED TO DEFEND OURSELVES AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT!

This is the easiest one. If you think having a stash of assault rifles is going to protect you from military drones that will shoot you while you’re sitting on the toilet, carefully clutching your gun while your eyes dart around the room, you’re a fool. I mean, to truly be able to fight back, you’d need nuclear weapons and stealth bombers, right? Annually, the US spends more than $200 billion on defense procurement and R&D. The People don’t stand a chance, militaristically. (Not to mention, to truly be a foe, you’d need to learn some hacking skills because the first thing they’ll do is attack electronically. Make your car inoperable. Wipe out communication devices. Take away your money. And your FACEBOOK!)

IT’S TIME TO CONTEXTUALIZE THE SECOND AMENDMENT.

Just as it’s no longer legal to “own” another person and women now have the right to vote, some laws evolve with the times as we evolve with the times. It’s time to put the Second Amendment in its current context, which includes a close review of the guns that are currently available to regular Joes. To be clear: I believe in the right to bear arms. I don’t believe in the right to bear nuclear arms. Or assault weapons. Or magazines that hold 30+ bullets. Or surface-to-air missiles. Or weaponized honey bees. Or Taylor Swift albums. You get the picture.

Guns don’t need to be completely outlawed. When the zombie apocalypse comes, I’ll be happy there are guns in my house. (Until we run out of bullets and have to resort to stabbing them with the broken off handle of our broom.) But there is absolutely no reason that regular, crazy old Americans should have access to as many military-grade high-caliber killing machines as they can afford. (ed. note: US civilians cannot purchase true military-grade guns, only modified versions of them, though they can purchase military-grade gear like body armor.) And when some asshole suddenly starts buying a shitload of ammunition and enough guns to outfit a small army, maybe it wouldn’t hurt for someone to check that shit out.

Finally, John Oliver was credited with this quote (though I haven’t been able to track down where he said it or if he said it): “One failed attempt at a shoe bomb, and now we all take off our shoes at the airport. Thirty-one (mass) shootings since Columbine, and no change in our regulation of guns.” I can’t say it any better than that.

It’s all about context.

opinions are like assholes

Everybody has one. Except that poor fellow who was born without an asshole and had to poop through his elbow. Best we not talk about it.

Jimmy Carter said last night that he was in support of the legalization of marijuana. Or, specifically, he said: let’s see how it plays out in Washington and Colorado now that they’ve legalized it. If the dope smokers don’t leave the stove on and burn the place down or endanger the Cheeto supply, maybe other states can follow suit with a little more confidence.

Having been a bartender for a decade, I’ve seen people on all sorts of drugs. The most irritating were always the cokeheads (meth wasn’t around back then–I’m sure it would win by a landslide) (if for no other reason than the sores). Then came the drunks. The potheads were always the least irritating. What’s not to love about people smiling and laughing and talking about how great Phish is? In fact, I wish they’d dump THC in the water supply so some people would take a deep breath and calm the fuck down.

I have President Carter’s autograph. He did a book signing in Houston in the mid/late ’90s at a Barnes and Noble way out in the boonies. Somewhere (probably tucked safely in the book because I’m all organized and shit) I still have the slip of paper that was handed out before you got to the front of the line. I remember it said something about how he couldn’t accept gifts, and I’m pretty sure it mentioned cookies in particular. Which I get. Who wants to eat stranger cookies?

It’s impressive how socially and politically active Carter has remained since he left office. He’s the real deal. It would be fun to smoke some weed with him. While wearing sweaters and talking about turning the thermostat down a little.

(Point of clarification: A lot of people who are pro-legalization are not themselves pot smokers. They just think it’s ridiculous to put people in prison for a little wad of herb in their pocket. I would assume Mr. Carter is in that group and do not mean to suggest he puffs, passes or bogarts.)

this dog food’s delicious (I’ll kill you)

Weird shit goes on in this house.

I’ve mentioned the grave (we assume and hope it’s for a dog) in our backyard. Electronics and lights turn themselves on. There are noises. Feet shuffling through the living room when no one’s there. The doorknob jiggling late at night (and, according to the peephole in the front door, by an invisible hand). The dogs don’t like to be in the kitchen and slink through the room when they want to travel to another part of the house (they do seem to get over their fear when cooking is happening, especially if chicken is involved). Something has died in the walls. Twice.

Things are just a little off. Light switch plates and outlet covers are slightly off level. We have an abnormal amount of spiders in the house. Twice a snake has snuck onto the interior back porch. Weird mushrooms grow after a good rain. I’m not trying to suggest there’s some supernatural explanation for any of these oddities, but I will say this is the strangest place I’ve ever lived.

For instance, this morning. James was already gone, so it was just me and the dogs. Stella was wrapped up in a blanket on her little dog bed under my desk, and Dali was in the living room having breakfast. Dali is very protective of her food–even though she’s never missed a meal and no one tries to eat her food. (I gave it up years ago.) She will often growl at Stella (and sometimes me or James if we get too close to her bowl). I was in the bathroom finishing my toilette when I heard Dali’s low growl. I poked my head into the living room, expecting to see Stella near Dali’s food. But Dali was alone. And looking into the kitchen.

In case we had a visitor (I would hope that Dali would provide more than a low growl if someone were in the house, but she’s kind of lazy), I put some clothes and my glasses on and went to check it out. No one was there. I went back to the bathroom. Dali started growling again, and again she was staring into the kitchen. I made a big production out of walking through that part of the house and letting her know that it was just us chickens, but she was unmoved.

If it wasn’t the boogeyman, perhaps she was bothered by this:

these eyes have seen things

these eyes have seen things

This is a reindeer that my parents made for my grandparents about 25 or 30 years ago. The eyes have yellowed, but otherwise this little guy is in great shape. When it gets closer to Christmas, I do what my grandparents used to do–tie it up on the front porch like a pet. But for now, it’s just a couple of feet from Dali’s bowl. Staring at her. Maybe that’s who she was growling at this morning, though she was looking the opposite direction. She’s not the smartest dog in the world.

Or maybe she can see things in the house that I can’t. Not that I go in for that hoodoo bullshit. Except, of course, for the time I accidentally took a picture of a scary fucking black blob inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Let’s just say I’m open-minded to the possibilities. And so is Dali.

a thanksgiveaway

I’m giving away two tickets to see Louis CK in Austin next month. I bought them when the Houston show was sold out (because I wasn’t going to miss this tour). Then he added a second Houston show (to which I scored front row seats) (yes, it was fecking awesome), so I’m giving the Austin tickets away. Maybe to you.

Here’s the deal:

  • You must live in Austin (or somewhere in Texas, if you can convince me that you’ll be able to see a late show in Austin on a Thursday night)
  • You must agree to email me a picture from the venue, preferably from your seat, the night of the show
  • You must leave a comment on this blog post telling me what your favorite Louis CK bit is (from his stand up or his series) and why – I want these tickets to go to a fan

In exchange for the above, I will email you the link to print the tickets within a few days of the show (not sending earlier than that because I don’t want them to be resold).

Here are the specific details about the show:

And…go.

UPDATE: Thanks to the three people who’ve chimed in so far. I’ll be drawing a name from a hat (or maybe a bowl) some time tomorrow. Not sure if I’ll do it in the frenzy of the morning or the drunken stupor of the evening. Either way, I’ll email the winner and post the name here.

As for the rest of you – you have at least 24 hours left to enter. Be sure to follow the simple instructions above. (There are two reasons I’m giving away these tickets in this fashion: 1. I didn’t want to have to choose from among my friends and 2. this is a chance for us to share some funny shit with each other. It’s a small price to pay to see one of the greatest comics of our generation, even if they are balcony seats…)

FINAL UPDATE: And the winner is…

Thanks for playing!

lil hos

This weekend, while other people were clogging the arteries of grocery stores buying food for Thanksgiving, I was hitting other stores buying gifts for Christmas. I do most of my shopping online because I don’t like doing it in person, but there are some things I like to buy in real time. Like clothes for my niece and nephew. I’ve got to see how shit looks together, and that’s best accomplished by holding things up to one another.

I’ve had this battle every time I’ve gone clothes shopping for Rowan and Molly, at least at Target. There are great options for boys. Different colors, cool designs, etc. But for girls, it’s like we’re bringing up a generation of hoochies just waiting for their fake tits and fake tans. All (and I almost literally mean ALL) baby girl clothes have lace and sparkles and shit. I had to look for AN HOUR to find three shirts for Molly that didn’t look like pole-dancer-in-training material.

Of course, I could get Molly clothes from the boys’ section. She could have her pick of dinosaurs, motorcycles, super heroes, tools, dogs and more, with nary a ruffle, feather or shiny bit to be seen. But Molly is pretty girly (as was I when I was little – obviously some of us grow out of it and never return), so it doesn’t feel right. It’s not that I don’t want to get her girly stuff. It’s pretty fun to buy (hence, the tutu I got her for her 2nd birthday). I just want them to turn down the volume on the whorish stuff, at least for the under-10 set.

Molly in her tutu – sweet, sassy and tough as nails

As for Rowan, I’m most excited by this purchase:

okay, you’re thinking “Darth Vader tee shirt, big whoop,” and I feel you but look at the mother loving back of the thing…

…it’s got a fucking CAPE attached to it, son

I realize that young Rowan probably has no clue who Darth Vader is, but I’m hoping he’ll dig on the fact that it has a freaking cape attached to it. If it weren’t socially frowned upon, I might consider wearing shirts with capes. Because sometimes you just want to fly.

And because sparkles and rhinestones weigh you down.

brain dump

is it still an honor if they spelled it wrong?

  • Does it seem like it’s getting dark really early? I know we just switched from daylight saving time (an outdated irritation), and that’s certainly part of it. But it starts getting dark around 4:30PM. By 6PM, it’s night. I don’t remember it getting dark so early in past years. This is probably a stupid question, but it’s really been bothering me.
  • Saw the same car on the way to work Monday and Tuesday mornings this week. I remembered it because its license plate reads EVIL E. On Monday, I wondered whether that stood for Evil Eye, Evelyn, Evil Erin, Ice T’s DJ… Then I saw it again on Tuesday, about fifteen minutes later than Monday but in approximately the same spot, and it made me think that the cosmos was repeating patterns. That theory was validated when I got to work and did the exact same thing I’d done on Monday. To change things up today, I didn’t wear pants to work. Didn’t see EVIL E either, so maybe it worked.
  • We’ve had a natural gas leak at the end of our driveway for two weeks. We called it in on Halloween night. Someone came out around 11:30PM, said he couldn’t fix it but it wasn’t a “bad” leak. A few days later, when no one had come to fix the leak and I was tired of smelling it every time I exited my driveway, I called it in again. This prompted a hillbilly voicemail letting me know we were “on the list” and I shouldn’t call it in again because we were “on the list.” He said “on the list” approximately 734 times in the sixty-second message. He called again two more times, finally catching me on the third round, and again told me about the list. I asked if he could give me an indication of when we’d be at the top of the magical list, and he said that all he could tell me was “We know about the leak. It ain’t bad because it ain’t sputterin’ or hissin’ or nothin’, so you don’t need to worry about it. You’s on the list.” Well, hillbilly gas man, you’re on my list too. Now come fix my fucking gas leak. Please, with NASCAR on top.
  • I like to hand wash my car whenever possible, but a recent day found me with a muddy car and no cash. I went to Bubbles for a quickie no-touch wash. Since I was last there (months ago), the place has become almost completely automated. There used to be a guy who took your order and swiped your card, then another two or three who directed you into the machine and scrubbed the front and back bumpers. On this trip, I took my own order and swiped my own card. There was one guy cleaning the front and back bumpers and another guy lurking in the vacuum area, but that was it. Though I am at times hermit-like and don’t mind limited human interaction, I thought this kind of sucked. Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto. Thanks for taking our jobs.

UPDATE: A number of you expressed concern here and elsewhere about my gas leak (har har), so I wanted to provide an uneventful update. I called Center Point and had a bit of a chat with a lovely young man who seemed to understand the bad PR possibilities of a CP employee telling me to quit calling about an active gas leak that I can easily smell whilst walking by.  I told the dude that after those houses blew up in Indianapolis (either from a gas leak, asteroid or missile), it made me afraid that we might have a bigger leak underground that will show itself in dramatic fashion. I hope it’s as inconsequential as the hillbilly suggested it was, through a mouth full of Skoal and not teeth, but I’d rather be on the safe, non-explosive side.

The guy on the phone said that customers should never feel like they can’t call a leak in and that he’s put our work order on the fast track. We’ll see what happens. In the interim, don’t wear your skates over to my house.

old yeller

meet the new pot, same as the old pot

I have many treasures from my grandparents’ house. Though I am slowly (very. slowly.) downsizing my belongings in an attempt to simplify, there are some things I have a sentimental attachment to and don’t want to get rid of. For instance, the yellow pot on the right. It belonged to my grandmother. I was lucky to eat many delicious meals made in that pot. In the years that I’ve had it, the meals have continued (and have, hopefully, continued to be delicious).

But there’s a problem: the formerly white enameled inside has worn down to the cast iron. This pot isn’t meant to be down to the cast iron, and I’ve thought about replacing it for some time. The emotional attachment made that hard to do. Until this weekend, when I put old yeller out to pasture and replaced it with a new model. Not because I no longer care, but because sometimes it’s good to let go.

When my grandfather died, seven years after my grandmother, his house had to be emptied so it could be sold (and, as is the way these days, torn down so a monstrosity with two elevators could be put on the lot). They’d lived in that house for over fifty years, and it was full of memories. In an attempt to hold on to my grandparents a little while longer, I brought a lot of their stuff home to join with my stuff. And when my brother died, I did the same thing. It’s nice to be able to hold something that the person you’re missing used to hold. It feels like a tangible connection to someone who’s not tangibly here anymore.

It’s been almost three years since Mason died, and I’ve come to realize that I don’t need a tangible reminder for him to be present in my life. I think about him every day. My brother Tohner and I tell Mason stories all the time. We also like to guess what he would say about a given situation if he were still here. I don’t need to sit on his couch (currently residing in my living room) to connect to him. He’s always here. And occasionally when I’m on the phone with Tohner and he barks out laughter that sounds just like Mason’s, it’s almost like he’s on the other end of the line. He lives on in photos, memories, stories and shared DNA. The stories we tell, the memories we share–those things are what connect us. And they will never be replaced, even when the enamel has worn thin.

All this being said, I haven’t thrown old yeller away yet. Just put it in the back of the kitchen cabin for now. I’m not quite ready to let it go, though I know I will some day. And it’ll be okay.

questions

what kind of fortune is this?

  • I saw a one-legged woman on crutches doing her grocery shopping. She nudged the basket with her body because her hands were busy on the crutches. Did the fat scooter people who were riding around buying shitty food feel a little bit lazy?
  • Do people who have obnoxious vanity plates on their car feel like assholes when they are  in a funeral procession?
  • Does Charo’s body ever just want to wear a soft cotton tee shirt and stretchy pants instead of being stuffed into tight, strappy, sequined leather?
  • When are we going to drop this daylight saving time charade?
  • Why is this video (very NSFW) so fucking funny?
  • Do crazy people who live in cabins in the woods go crazy after they get there, or do they arrive like that?
  • What keeps knocking on the side of our house at night just on the other side of the wall behind my desk?

for love, not money

I subscribe to about 50 blogs. The exact number ebbs and flows as people get added and dropped. My reasons for dropping a blog are generally:

  • they start getting preachy about shit I don’t want to be preached to about
  • they’ve received a bit of national press and have been changed by the experience (in a negative way)
  • they turn the blog into a blatant attempt to make money/get a book deal/”monetize”

I’ve watched it happen numerous times. It’s always disappointing.

There’s a guy out in West Texas who initially blogged about off-grid living in the middle of nowhere. His daily posts were an interesting peek into a more simple, if not more difficult, way of life. Then the New York Times came to visit. His posts for the few months after that became a lot more self-congratulatory. (I don’t know how he was able to type with only one hand available.) The NYT story led to a few other stories. The posts were no longer about his lifestyle–they were about his life’s style. He was selling a commodity, wearing a costume, pretending. He became a caricature. I dropped him after a time, and a recent check in on his blog shows that he’s now gone off on a religious zealot/Armageddon tangent. Yeah. I doubt the NYT will be back any time soon.

I’ve grappled with how to manage content for this blog, and I understand having conflicting emotions about how to do it over the long haul. For a while, I was beating myself up for not posting often enough, or not being political enough. But then I realized: I want to write about whatever I want to write about at that moment. Sometimes I want to write about politics. Sometimes farts. Sometimes nothing (hence the occasional week-long silences). Since I’m not selling anything, I don’t have to conform to a theme or a schedule. I can do WHATEVER THE FUCK I WANT. And therein lies freedom.

This blog won’t catch the eye of the NYT, but the good news is: you won’t have to watch me turn into a media-obsessed jackass. (maybe just a regular jackass)

no exit

My first mistake was not going to the gym after work. That’s what I’d planned to do. Had my gym clothes in the trunk and my iPod was fully charged. But when I left the office, I was distracted and got on the freeway instead of heading under it into downtown. As soon as I realized my mistake, it was too late. I was committed. No exit.

So I did what I often do on the drive home–I called my brother. I drive a stick (that’s what she said) and don’t like to tie one of my hands up with phone bidness, so I put in earbuds when I’m rolling.

The traffic was more stop than go. I grabbed my buds out of the glovebox, stuck them in my ears and picked up my phone to call Tohner. How long does it take to glance down, wake the phone up, go to FAVORITES and hit a button? Maybe five seconds? I’ve never really paid attention because it’s never been an issue.

Just as the line started ringing, I heard honking behind me. Beep-beepbeepbeep-BEEP-beepbeep. I looked in my rearview to see what was up. Was my car on fire? Was a cow on the road? Did someone fall asleep at the wheel? (That last would have been hard to determine because we weren’t really moving.) Then I saw him. The smug fart-smeller in the car behind me (a Volkswagen with out-of-state plates). He was gesticulating my direction.

He did the two-finger thing, where you point at your eyes and then at someone else to let them know that YOU’RE WATCHING THEM. Then he made like he was texting on an invisible phone. He said, “I SAW YOU” and kept making the same movements. I think he may have been semi-erect, he was so excited.

Thing is, this self-righteous prig didn’t realize that I wasn’t, in fact, texting and was, in fact, doing what I could to minimize the impact of my phone on my driving. I considered responding to his shitty theatre with some of my own but decided to leave him in his misery. I mean, what kind of situation do you have to be living in to get such delight in acting like a little bitch?

Here’s a photo that sums up how I feel:

Hey! Fuck off!

PS – Tohner didn’t answer.

does anybody really know what time it is?

the fuck?

The yellow tag above was hanging on our door yesterday, alerting us to a water outage. They’re ripping up the two blocks that make up our little neighborhood, an endeavor they say will take nine months or more. Yippee! They begin each morning at 6:30, usually hammering something massive into the ground to rip up the asphalt. The noise and percussion wake me shortly before my alarm clock, and for a split second I think a giant is coming down the street. (This is actually less weird than most of the dreams I wake from, so in some ways it’s a nice break.)

If you look closely at the tag, you’ll see that our water is going to be out today from 10PM to 3AM. Did they mean 10AM to 3PM? That would make more sense, for it to be off while they’re here working. But then they list the times again, again putting 10PM as the start time. So maybe that’s what they really meant…wait. Now it says 3PM is the end time.

Are these walking giants also time travellers? Is that why our water bill is so high?

UPDATE: the water was off in the middle of the night and back on this morning – guess that answers that question

ad astra per alas porci

My radio silence of late isn’t because I’ve been trapped under something heavy and unable to reach my keyboard. I’ve been right in front of my computer a lot, actually, working on a few long shot projects. Things that have only slightly better odds of coming to fruition than the mythical flying piglet in the sky. In addition to the pain of writing artistic statements (which are always entirely more difficult to create than the project you’re writing about), I’ve also been wrestling with this new play. This bastard, assface, frustrating piece of work. And it’s winning. For now.

As is usual when I’m stuck in my own head, I seek out things to stimulate my brain and, hopefully, help me work around the mental roadblock. One great source of unending interest is the ARTISAN VIDEOS section of Reddit. It’s a joyous thing to watch skilled artists do their thing, like:

There’s something wonderfully soothing about watching people work with their hands. And there are other distractions to be found, so many things to do other than the task(s) at hand. This isn’t a video, it’s an image. A very funny image that is now the background on my work computer. It was simply titled, “I was eating some bread, when suddenly…” And while we’re on the subject of dogs, here’s a lovely homage to the dog/human relationship.

Another item I ran across recently: Henry Miller on writing. (How awesome his daily routine sounds. Writing, going to museums, reading in cafes, painting, going on walks and bike rides through unknown areas, making charts and plans.) If you click the link, you’ll notice that his first commandment about writing is “Work on one thing at a time until finished.” I would do well to follow that one.

Going to go work in the yard. Perhaps I’ll find inspiration there.

PS – the title of this post = to the stars on the wings of a pig. John Steinbeck’s motto. Don’t fuck with the Pigasus.

the city and the country (California trip – May 2012)

easy way to remember where you left your car at the airport – guess you could also write this information down, but that’s less interesting – this was our first time to fly out of Hobby Airport – much easier/faster to navigate than IAH

behind the bar at Tosca (I took the same shot last time we were there, in 2009) – we stayed just up the road at Columbus Motor Inn – super economical digs that are in a great location with FREE parking – while waiting for the bus outside the motel, we were engaged in conversation with a “colorful” old lady who said that I smelled good (just the right amount of scent, not too overpowering) and that I must be a good woman so James should occasionally wear “the thong” if he wants to keep “getting that poonanny”

SEXI

for something different, we spent a couple of nights in Pacifica, a hamlet about 15 minutes south of SF – we stayed at the Seabreeze Motel, an old school beach motel that is located next to Nick’s Rockaway, the happening place for the entire town – the dance floor was hopping both nights, with locals dancing to a surprisingly good cover band playing typical drunk middle aged white people fare: “Brick House,” “Play that Funky Music White Boy,” etc.

we usually get a Hyundai – this car’s bigger engine was nice for all the driving we did in the mountains, though I was a little skeered when we were driving through “warning: falling rocks” areas where you could actually see the rocks rolling down toward the road as you zipped by

we were having a nice picnic at Lake Berryessa when James laid it on me that the Zodiac killer did some of his nasty business there – how romantic

on the back deck of the house we borrowed from friends in Napa – we did a lot of this

we did a lot of this, too

sweet Hana, the dog next door – she stopped in to see us each morning and again in the evening – she was also good for taking care of leftovers

Jarvis Winery, thanks to two passes from our friends Philip and Jonathan – it’s in a fucking cave – seriously, the entire operation (except the vineyard) is inside a cave that was dug with the same machinery that dug the Chunnel – I wanted to rollerblade down its hallways, inevitably falling on my ass and probably cracking my head open in the process

it’s so fancy, there’s a waterfall inside – our tasting group included five drunk Iraqis and a rich couple from Boston – the lady part of the couple and I took a bathroom break – she carried on our conversation throughout our time in the water closet, even as she let loose a rather prodigious fart – didn’t miss a beat

perspective

fighting stupidization

Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael – this was the first Ramble that Phil Lesh (bassist from the Grateful Dead) put together with the blessing of Levon Helm (who did his own Rambles at his place in Woodstock) – they played the Band’s “The Band” album all the way through because Levon had died just a few weeks before – the night featured Chris Robinson from the Black Crowes plus a lot of weed

back at Hobby, they couldn’t offload the luggage because of lightning on the tarmac – the bad thing about having wifi on the plane is I was watching a serious storm move into Houston as our plane was doing the same – we ended up stuck there for over an hour waiting for our luggage, then drove through a monsoon to get back home – welcome back!

the haul from City Lights (SF) and Moe’s Books (Berkeley)

bitches be melodramatic

American Theatre magazine (the rag for Theatre Communications Group) asks random questions on facebook every day. Here’s one from a while ago: What advice would you give to a theatre newbie/aspirant? While some of the answers were thoughtful, there were many less useful ones such as:

  • If there’s ANYTHING else you enjoy, do that.
  • get a “real” job
  • Snap out of it!
  • If there is anything ANYTHING else you can see yourself doing for a living DO THAT INSTEAD!
  • Run away fast
  • Run as fast as you can.

Presumably, the people who wrote these responses are 1) currently involved in theatre and 2) into it enough that they’re reading and responding to a question posed by a theatre magazine that they chose to follow on a social networking site. If they aren’t willing to take their own advice, why should anyone else?

Then there were the melodramatic responses, like:

  • You better love it like you’ve never loved anything or anyone else before, because it will love you back while beating the s*** out of you. If you can somehow live without it, find something else.
  • Unless you eat it, drink it, breathe it, and dream it, don’t do it. It must be what you HAVE to do. If not, do something else.

Bullshit. Now, I realize I’m saying this as a playwright who occasionally produces a show and gets a production here and there, not an actor in New York slogging through auditions and being pilloried in the NYT (fingers crossed on that last one). Maybe my opinion doesn’t count as much because, on a day-by-day basis, I’m not “doing” theatre as much as some other folks.

But, for instance, this new play I’m working on. I think about it every day. A lot. I spent all three days of my three-day weekend trying to figure it out. It’s giving me problems, which is fine because once the problems are worked out, it’ll write itself. But I’m not going to sit here and pretend that the time I spend with my hipster fucking notebook or sitting in front of my hipster fucking computer is somehow painful. It’s hard sometimes, but not as hard as high school. Or, like when I was a bartender, cleaning up someone’s puke out of the bathroom sink. That shit was hard. This, this is FUN.

I’m involved in theatre because it’s fucking delightful. I don’t ever expect to make a living from it, and I know it will always be something that I do in addition to a “regular” job. But that’s okay. Because I love it. If I ever reach a point where I don’t, if I ever find myself wanting to tell an aspiring playwright, “run away!” (said like Charles Nelson Reilly), then that’s when I need to reevaluate what I’m doing. Until then, I’ll be happy to share what I know and stress the importance of wine and coffee, a dog to pet and a reader whose opinion you trust.

And to these random facebook drama queens: If it’s so fucking hard–GET OUT. Seriously. Use that BFA from NYU to get a J.O.B. and quitcher bitchin’.